Has The World Entered A Moral Interregnum? -- By: Charles W. Super
BSac 74:293 (Jan 1917) p. 55
Has The World Entered A Moral Interregnum?
When we reflect that, during the past twenty years, one or another of the European powers has been at war either with another European power at the same time or with one outside of its boundaries, and that at times the belligerents have violated every principle of what is euphemistically called “civilized warfare,” we may well ask in all seriousness, whether the world has been growing better. When we add to this that creeds have had no influence on the formation of alliances; that Moslems are fighting Moslems; that Roman Catholics are pitted against Roman Catholics; that those professing the Orthodox Greek faith are arrayed against men of their own faith or of no faith; that Protestants of all creeds are in arms against their ecclesiastical brethren, we stand aghast. It may even be seriously questioned whether that form of betterment which is summed up in the term “civilization” has made any progress. What gain is it to the world that man has achieved amazing conquests over the blind forces of nature, and has constrained them to do his bidding, if these conquests only increase his ability to destroy?
Knowledge is power; but what doth power profit, if it is used chiefly to do harm, to inflict injury upon fellow men? No obligation has been held sacred; human life has been no more regarded than the life of a noxious beast; every senti-
BSac 74:293 (Jan 1917) p. 56
ment of kindliness and kinship has been thrust into the background, in order to win, or to inflict the greatest injury upon an enemy. We need not here stop to consider which of the parties has sinned most grievously, for often a foul deed committed by one party has been made the excuse or the justification for a greater atrocity by another. We are at times prompted to conclude that these conditions are without precedent. But when we study the records of the past we find that such a judgment is hasty. We need go no farther back than to the Persian wars to learn that such representative potentates as Darius and Xerxes took no account of right and justice when they were contemplating the invasion of Greece: the only question was. whether they could win and how.
The history of the Persian wars, so far as the incomplete records that have come down to us can be called history, reads almost like a chapter from the records of European events ‘luring the past two or three decades. If our information about the remote past were as complete as it is of recent words and deeds, we should probably find the parallel still more striking’. When we come to the Peloponnesian wars and read the speeches recorded by Thucydides or composed by him to set forth the aims and motives of the belligerents, we arc forcibly...
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